The basic definition of bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over another person; there is a pattern of repeated and unwanted behavior, and involves crossing into one’s space without permission.
WHAT CAN A PARENT DO?
- Encourage your child to report any bullying incidents to you.
- Validate what your child is feeling. It is normal for your child to feel hurt, sad, angry or scared.
- Let your child know that it is okay to express their anger. There are positive and negative ways to express anger; we want to teach and model the positive ways of expression.
- Monitor what you are feeling when your child brings this issue to your attention: check in to see how it affects you. Perhaps you are feeling angry, fearful, and in some cases it can trigger a wound from a time in your life when you were bullied. Often children don’t want to tell us because they are afraid of what reaction you will have or that it will upset you.
- Ask your child how he/she has tried to stop the bullying. Asking questions is a good way to engage your child in problem-solving strategies. It can give them some confidence to help them regain some of their power. Ask how is he/she going to solve this. We want the child to do the thinking before we jump in. See how many options he/she can brainstorm.
- Coach your child in alternatives. Ideally, the best solution is to have your child solve this without anyone interfering. However, this isn’t always possible. You can share these strategies: avoidance is sometimes necessary; moving to a different place at the school – away from the bully; stay near a supervisor or an adult you trust, look for new friends, join social activities outside of school to gain some new friends, and finally, tell the bully to leave you alone.
- Talk with your child’s teacher, principal or guidance counselor. Make sure they are aware of what is going on at school.
- Encourage your child to seek help from other school personnel.
- Volunteer to help supervise activities at school.
- Do not ignore your child’s reports. Ignoring them sends the wrong message of not caring or a lack of support.
- Do not confront the bully or the bully’s family. They will get defensive or the problem can get worse.
- Teach your child how to defend him or herself.
- Teach self-respect at home. Do you model it yourself and in your family?
- Give numerous positive comments (put up’s) to your child.
- Avoid labeling or name-calling others.
- Let your children stand up to you now and then. It makes it more likely they will stand up to a bully.
- Teach positive self-talk.
- Teach how to use humor, ‘out crazy’ them. For example, if the bully says to “Hey, you’re ugly.” Your child can respond in a couple different ways:
- “ Thanks for sharing”
- “Yes, I know, I always have been”
- “Yes, but not as ugly as today’s lunch!” then walk away.
There are many other aspects of bullying to look at: Why your child is the victim, why people bully, what your child can do if he/she is bullied, signs your child is being bullied, what the schools should be doing, handling the school bus issues. All of these are addressed in The Shameful Epidemic, How to Protect Your Child From Bullies and School Violence. Visit www.StoppingSchoolViolence.com to learn what is possible.
There are solutions. The Peace Center helps students, schools and parents with these issues of bullying and cyberbullying, or other types of conflict and violence: visit the website at www.ThePeaceCenter.org or BullyingPrevention@ThePeaceCenter.org.org or call 215-750-7220.